Growing up a heavy metal obsessed teen in the mid 80’s meant that in my opinion, all metal bands were great, and metal was a salvation from the drudgery of school that spoke to my brother and me. We knew something that our peers didn’t. Metal (in Australia as least) was almost underground. Before Bon Jovi broke world wide with their watered down, light and friendly hard rock sound, metal was our indulgence, the obsession of a chosen few who wanted something different to the sounds of INXS, Models and Midnight Oils of that time. My brother and I pored over the pages of our import copies of Circus and Metal Edge. To us, Lose Angeles was a heavy rock Mecca, whilst we, living in Australia, had to suffice with local variants of this theme, who tried hard but offered no originality on the US model (Heaven being the only notable exception to this rule). Whilst our contemporaries were wasting their time listening to dross like Men Without Hats, A-ha and the Allniters, we were cranking up the leather n metal tuneage of WASP, Twisted Sister, Dokken, KISS, Motley Crue, Ozzy, Black n’ Blue, Saxon, Priest and Maiden on the old ’75 Sanyo. We got it, we understood, we answered the call. Hells bells, we were so blinkered that when we saw Spinal Tap at the cinema we didn’t get the jokes! Now that’s funny in itself……By 1991 we should have clearly known better. The metal bands of the mid 80s had now largely taken a back seat to the prettier, pop metal bands who had ridden in on Jon Bon Jovi’s coat tails and had been signed by all the majors keen for a slice of the same pie. Problem was, most of these bands were third rate Bon Jovis. They had the look down pat, the big hair, the pout, the snakeskin boots, the spray on bad ass attitude…..but the songs ? In a short space of time, the West Coast of the States was a breeding ground for these cardboard cut-outs. Warrant, Hurricane, Johnny Crash and far too many others I’ve purposely blocked from my memory. The labels couldn’t wait to sign them, hoping their new poster boys could squeeze out the next big radio ballad. Heavy metal of 1985 was gone, replaced by a sanitised, palatable and less offensive model. Hard rock was on the radio, but it was not the 1983-1985 model. No Ronnie James, no Lemmy or Bruce Bruce. Where was my “Strong Arm Of The Law’, my ‘Tyrant’, my ‘Bomber’, my ‘Heaven and Hell’ ?……..nowhere to be seen or heard. The poster boys were in vogue. Pretty boyz with a lipstixx fixx who looked hotter than your girlfriend and yet still told you they could ‘kick your ass’. Sure. They factory produced a never ending stream of them, Poison, Hurricane, Britney Fox, Winger, Danger Danger, FireHouse, Roxx Gang, Dangerous Toys, White Lion etc etc etc. (Cinderella were a notable exception, as they were blues based)…One of the worst offenders ? Warrant. What possessed my brother and I to see Warrant in Sydney in 1990 I will never know. Probably the same reason that saw me purchase their ‘Dirty Rotten’ album. The fact that Australia’s worst ever band Roxus had the support should have meant that Jim Jones was there passing out the kool aid as punters entered the show, but alas, we weren’t that lucky. How did Roxus manage to get so many international support slots during those years ? Far be it from me to cast aspersions, but Roxas were signed to Molly’s label. Nuff said.
The fact that I cant remember much about this show is testament to how forgettable it was. The boys pranced and preened. There was high kicking and smoke bombs and white leather. There was fringe, lighters in the air and screams from the girls. They played all the hits, ‘Down Boys”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, and “I Saw Red”. The androgynous looking and Brett Michaels copyist, Jani Lane really got ’em worked up (maybe some of the girls in the audience too), when he sung the ballads, “Heaven”, and “Sometimes She Cries”. But it’s “Cherry Pie” that the kids wanna hear and the down boys delivered it with all locks flowing (except maybe the thinning haired guitar player Joey Allen who surely must be an 8 ball by now). If it wasn’t for the song ‘Cherry Pie’ the boyz would still have been plodding away on the LA circuit. What was I saying before about record companies back then signing any band who looked like women so long as they could deliver the label a big friendly radio hit ? Now consider that ‘Cherry Pie’, Warrant’s best known song was hastily written in 15 minutes by Jani Lane and added to an already completed album ONLY after record company pressure (ie: no hits on here fellas, fix it!). This song bears a striking resemblance (ie: rip off) to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, and Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll”. The guitar solo was performed by Poison’s guitarist C. C. DeVille. Jani AND CC! Enuff z nuff already! Settle down Motormouth……. The band owed a great debt to the record company exec who came up with the idea of casting the very rootable model Bobbi Brown in the video clip. The sight of her cavorting with a fire hose spelt payola in terms of record sales. If not for her, the Warrant boys would have been back to handing out their flyers at Gazzaris. I cant remember if drummer Steven Sweet (the bastard cousin of Michael and Robert) played a solo or not, but as I was at the back of the venue putting the beers away, (the golden nectar providing a much needed tonic), it scarcely mattered. I do know that we walked out well before it was finished, bitching about how bad the show was. If it’s any conciliation, this would be the last time, thankfully, that I would be subjected to the inane Roxus.